One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An African bulbul (songbird) with a black or dark brown head and crest.
Late 19th century: from topknot.
A middle-aged or elderly man.‘a toppie with grey hair turned us away’
- ‘When he (an old De La Sallian who became a noted chemist and mayor of Molteno and is now retired in Port Elizabeth) and I went to the last Old Boys dinner we attended, I said to him, ‘But where are all the old ‘toppies’?’’
- ‘An old toppie from the Vatican of all places stood up and said: ‘I have listened to all the problems all morning, but… if the country is still functioning after 10 years and farmers are still farming, you must have done something right.’’
1960s: perhaps from Zulu thopi ‘growing sparsely’ (describing thinning hair), or from Hindi ṭopī ‘hat’.
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